The Urban Cowboy: The Evolution of Westernwear in High-End Fashion, 1965-1995

Melinda Abercrombie
Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice

About this Item

Title
The Urban Cowboy: The Evolution of Westernwear in High-End Fashion, 1965-1995
Contributor Names
Abercrombie, Melinda (Author)
Matheson, Rebecca (Thesis advisor)
Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York. Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice (Degree granting institution)
Date
2023
Degree Information
M.A. Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, 2023
Department: Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice
Advisors: Matheson, Rebecca
Abstract
Westernwear refers to a style of dress inspired by the workwear of cowboys from the United States which is made up of various influences from Spain to Indigenous peoples of the United States, developing into one broad visual identity. The cowboy who wears this dress is a central character in the mythology of the American West. The myth of the West is strongly tied to American individualism, solidified with western expansion during the nineteenth century, and grew with the rise of the United States as a world power in the twentieth century. As an export, the American cowboy and iconography in an international context is seen as a representation of the country rather than just a region. Once abroad, the mythology tied to the image of the cowboy may be reinterpreted according to its non-American viewer.

This non-American reinterpretation is the focus of this paper’s research to discuss westernwear coming to high-end fashion catwalks by way of foreign film production, musical stage costuming, continued reimagining of the cowboy’s iconography through film and television and finally joining fashion’s vocabulary via foreign fashion designers. The timeline will use these key cultural moments of international exposure and uses of westernwear to be then translated into high-end fashion in both Europe and the United States from 1965 to 1995. Westernwear’s reimagining and appropriation into the global fashion’s world in the late 20th century follows the downfall of the glorification and romanticization of the iconography of the cowboy. The cowboy represents America on the international stage so in turn the use of westernwear references in fashion is a commentary on where the United States stands politically or economically internationally.
Keywords: American fashion; American West; Cowboy; Cowboy mythology; Westernwear; Workwear
Subject
Fashion
History
United States--Study and teaching
America
West (U.S.)
Cowboys
Mythology
Western
Work clothes
Rights
In Copyright
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Identifier
FIT Repository ID: etd_000944
ISBN: 9798379899073
pqdiss: 30522585
Related Materials
Also available from ProQuest
Type
Text
Thesis
Language
English
Publisher
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses

Citation

Abercrombie, M. (2023). The Urban Cowboy: The Evolution of Westernwear in High-End Fashion, 1965-1995 [Master's thesis, Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York]. FIT Institutional Repository. https://institutionalrepository.fitnyc.edu/item/120827
Abercrombie, Melinda. The Urban Cowboy: The Evolution of Westernwear in High-End Fashion, 1965-1995. 2023. Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, Master's thesis. FIT Digital Repository, https://institutionalrepository.fitnyc.edu/item/120827
Abercrombie, Melinda. "The Urban Cowboy: The Evolution of Westernwear in High-End Fashion, 1965-1995." Master's thesis, Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, 2023. https://institutionalrepository.fitnyc.edu/item/120827